I like to write about places that others seem to pass over or touch on lightly and the Galleria Dell Accademia and the church Ognissanti fall into this category. Since the Galleria has tight security against taking pictures, I'll combine these two together for you!
OGNISSANTI- located on the Borgo Ognissanti to the West of town and North of the river this church is free and open from 8-12 and 4-7, unless services are in progress.
It was founded in the 13th centruy by monks who developed a wool trade and became very wealthy in the process. They built this church, the monestery, 30 houses for the wool workers, and the bridge to the West to move their merchandise quicker. These guys were so wealthy, they could afford to hire great painters/sculpters like Ghirlandaro, Botticelli, and Giotto. This was also the home parish of the wealthy merchant family..the Vespucci's. Does the name Amerigo Vespucci ring a bell? Mapmaker and explorer extraordinare after which America is named? The second naive off the central altar is the Vespucci chapel. Inside is a painting called "Maddona del la Misericordio" by Bottecelli. In this painting a boy dressed in pink happens to be peeking around a man's cloak. This boy happens to be a very young Americus! Kneeling below the Virgins left hand is his cousin and the very beautiful mistress of Medici. If you go to the Uffizi museum you will see another painting of her ( also done by Bottecelli) called " the Birth of Venus." Who knew that Venus was a Vespucci?
GALLERIA DELL'ACCADEMIA- open 9-7pm, tues-sat & 9-2 Sun. $ 15,000 Lire admission ($ 7.50us)
This is the first art school founded in Europe in the year 1563. As you enter, the rape of the Sabines will be infront of you. It is quite an impressive and powerful piece that can be viewed from any direction. Makes you want to rescue the poor damsal in distress. turn to the left and follow the corridor around to the unfinished works of Michelangelo. They are quite impressive, and I like them better than some of his " finished" pieces! There's something painful or powerful about looking at the human form trying to struggle it's way out of the hard stone. Did you know that Michelangelo always worked his pieces from the central abdomen and worked his way out?
David will beckon to you from down the hall as he is bathed in bright white light...but take your time and really absorb the power of these pieces.
I know that David with those pretty curls,that sweet face, the bulging tight muscles with the veins popping causes quite a commotion. You know what though? His hands and feet are just too big for my tastes! Notice, I don't complain about any of his other anatomical points???
In the same room there is a collection of religious art. To the right of David is a piece where Christ is being taken down off the cross. I dare you to try and breath while you look at it! This painting takes you to the very moment of that last breath. I also want you to notice the exhaustion and defeat...or is it relief on the face of Christ?? You tell me !
If you take a left to the next room, you will enter the plaster cast room of very famous marble sculpters. Notice the multiple black pinpoints on each piece? These are marks left to measure from, so that each piece can be copied. This room is packed with Bottocelli women and children! He really knew and understood the female form where the great Michelangelo's women always look masculine and too bulky.